Let me tell you a little something about KIA.
A year ago, quite honestly if you told me I would buy a Kia I would have told you that you’ve lost your mind. I, myself, have always been a Honda/Acura guy. Performance when you needed it penny pitching fuel economy when you didn’t. So when my wife and I started shopping around for an SUV that would accommodate our new found growing family I wasn’t looking forward to looking on the KIA lot.
We shopped around and compared for two months. Test driving every weekend from high end Volvo and BMW models to Ford and Honda models, each time the KIA hung tough in the comparisons. We were test driving the turbo charged Sportage SX (in Florida Gator orange naturally). The vehicle got 27 mpg highway and was a direct cylinder injected motor. What this means is that instead of using a traditional fuel injector that shoots gas into the chamber the gas is fired directly into the piston chamber. This almost 100% eliminates the risk of destination basically meaning that you don’t need to put premium gas into the car. This is a big deal when you factor overall long term cost of ownership if by chance you haven’t seen the cost of premium gas recently.
Along with the gas mileage and regular gas, a 100,000 mile bumper to bumper and a sticker price about 11k less than even the next competitor and the fact that the vehicle just looks sweet, we decided to take a chance on the KIA. We drove the crap out of that suv from about 5 months leading up to the birth of our daughter. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the privilege to drive a turbo charged vehicle, but man is it a lot of fun!
Fast forward about 8 months later with 15,000 miles on the vehicle we set out to start a new beginning in Dallas Texas. To make a long story short we decided to drive the Sportage and ship our other two vehicles. With my wife, still nursing we had a few coolers on the hitch with dry ice, two cats in the rear, an infant in the back seat and my wife and I sharing the drive from Maryland to Texas.
Over the course of the next two and a half days outside of the obvious stress of managing logistics, driving the actually vehicle was a lot of fun. That was until we actually hit the Texas line. We pulled over for some gas and BBQ (naturally). After we topped off and filled our bellies we set out for the last 150 miles from Texarkana to Dallas.
About 15 miles down the road the Sportage began to lose power and wouldn’t accelerate over 35mph. We drifted to an underpass where we started our 1.5 hour virtual juggle of tow trucks, uhaul dealers, rental car companies, insurance companies and dealerships in 108 degree weather. A very traumatic experience followed just getting the vehicle to Rockwall Texas which is where the warranty work would take place. A post for another day for sure.
Fast forward to dropping the vehicle off at the dealership where I was greeted by one of the service representatives. He barely introduced himself when he tried turning over the car only to find the starter failing to disengage and a very rich smell of exhaust and gas coming from the tailpipe. With clipboard in hand he immediately asked me if I had the gas receipt from the last place we filled up. I dug out the receipt to find that we did in fact fill up with regular unleaded, pump 13 from a gas station which shall remain nameless.
“Kevin” then said “I bet my weeks salary there is diesel in the gas you last pumped”. This meant a few things which set off a series of events. First, if that was the case none of the repairs would be covered under warranty and I would need to go after the gas station to reimburse the cost. Insert immediate call to lawyer and insurance company here. Flushing the gas tank found just that, bad gas. Fast forward almost a month, final bill for repairs 4,700 USD. Insurance company covering a portion and gas station on the hook to cover the rest.
A few days later I get a call from Kevin with an updated. “Hey Eric, if you still have those spark plugs I gave you, KIA has agreed to warranty all of the repairs” . I immediate grab the plugs and head over to the dealership to get the paperwork done before this too-good-to-be-true event passed me up. You see Kevin gave me the spark plugs and a sample of the gas from the tank to use as evidence in the case. The spark plugs tips were completely melted off, these of course fell into the chamber and caused havoc to the motor breaking some valves etc. There is only a few ways this could happen to a spark plug. Ultimately the temperature from diesel burning in the cylinder melted the plugs into the motor. Kevin mentioned that KIA wanted to cover it under warranty and have the plugs to look into how to make the motor more resistant to issues like this. Regardless if they were just getting it covered before it headed to court and they would surely be called upon or if they really just cared about us and getting us back on the road, I’ll never know but they folks at KIA were wonderful the entire time. They even gave us a loaner vehicle for the entire time our car was in their shop, keep in mind they weren’t going to cover the car under warranty so they literally gave us the loaner at no cost even though it wasn’t their responsibility to do so.
I normally don’t do product reviews but a huge thanks to SouthWest KIA and KIA corporate for seeing my issue and saving me just a TON of time and headaches from an already tragic course of events.
Gas on the left was the dirty gas in my car.